Omashu layout
The First of a Thousand Steps
Chapter information

Fate's Cold Hands



Written by

Omashu Rocks, Agent Slash

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The Visitor

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Separate Paths

It was midday. The sun, at its highest point, beat down on Kiama's neck. Sweat poured down her back as she drank her last bit of water. Her feet were sore, sorer than she could ever remember them being in a long time. She glanced down quickly, afraid to see blood- she did. Her Water Tribe shoes were not meant to trek the rocky Earth Kingdom terrain for such a long period of time. Unable to bear the throb for much longer, she made her way to a patch of grass by a pond, where she refilled her water supply. She then proceeded to remove her shoes from her chafed feet, flinching in pain as the leather rubbed over her cuts. She forced an angry chuckle. So much for having Kembar to help me- or anyone for that matter. From now on I guess I'm by myself. That's when she set a goal for herself. For a moment, she hoped her brother would remember how to heal himself whenever needed, but she quickly snapped back to reality. A failure for him is a win for me.

"I will beat Kembar. I know I can." Making wavy motions with her wrist, she drew a small blob of water from the pond and forced it slowly to her right foot. She made some more movements with her arms, and shortly the blob began to glow a bright white. When she removed the water, her foot had been healed and she repeated the process on the other one. In no time, Kiama was back on her feet, trekking in what was at least a 90 degree heat. She was about to abandon all hope when she saw what looked like a mountain. As she got closer, Kiama realized that she had reached her destination. Oh, thank the spirits! I finally made it! she thought to herself as she approached the city.

Kembar, after being dumped off in a random field by Yansu and the White Lotus, was struggling to make the best of how his life had been turned upside-down so suddenly. One moment, he was sharing a wonderful time with Kiama on their birthday, the next he was told that he would have to kill her. "Unless she gets me first," he muttered to himself as he walked. "No, I can't think like that," he told himself. "She has probably already starting Earthbending training!" He began to think he may have made a mistake by choosing to seek out the Western Air Temple first. He'd be the first Avatar to master the elements in reverse order, and he didn't even know where he was going. He glanced around the plain landscape; all he could see was miles and miles of grass, maybe a rock or two but not one architectural structure or source of water in sight. Why couldn't that old jerk just drop me off at the temple? Kembar thought. He looked hard to the left, then to the right, then whipped his head to the left again because he noticed a figure. He squinted and stared at the shape coming closer- it was a man! Someone was waving his arms and running towards him. Within a few more seconds, Kembar realized that the man was no man at all, but a woman dressed in some strange yellow and orange robes. Her mouth was moving, but Kembar couldn't hear any words. Suddenly, the woman stopped, took a deep breath, cupped her hands by her mouth, and screamed. At first, the Avatar couldn't hear a thing but he was soon blasted by a sound wave and heard,

"Get that hog-monkey!" Trying not to fall over, Kembar scanned the area for signs of the creature, and saw it prancing around about 25 yards away. He immediately sprinted after it, shooting blasts of water from the two pouches on his sides.

The hog-monkey was too quick and evaded each of the blows. Then, Kembar remembered his recent sparring match with Kiama. As he ran closer to his target, he hurled a blob of water over it, then brought it back to catch the hog-monkey by surprise from behind. This forced the creature forward where Kembar froze its legs to the ground. The animal struggled, but the Waterbender used an ice creeper to slowly encase the rest of its body. With only part of the hog-monkey's head loos, Kembar noticed that it was hearing a wooden, beaded necklace with a strange symbol on a circular pendant. He snatched it carefully and ran back to the woman, who was approaching at a walking pace.

The woman smiled and bowed. "I am forever in your debt, young man. You don't know how important that pendant is to my people's culture." She bore a blue arrow on her forehead where part of her hair must have been cut off. Kembar remembered learning something about people with arrow tattoos.

"Are you an Air Nomad?" he inquired hopefully.

The woman gave a soft laugh. "Indeed I am. My name is Sister Jiyu, and I am the Superior of the Western Air Temple."

Kiama approached the gates of Omashu and saw several guards standing out front. One of the guards, a bulky man bent a rock out of the ground and kept it suspended in the air above the girl's head. "State your business!" he said, briefly.

"I'm the Avatar," Kiama explained. "Well, sort of. I've come to start my Earthbending training here."

The guards looked at each other, unsure what to think. The guard in front immediately started laughing. "Of course you are!" he shouted sarcstically. "Why don't you prove it? Show us two different kinds of bending."

"I just said I was here to start my training," Kiama repeated.

"Right, whatever," another guard commented.

Kiama immediately got right in the lead guard's face. "Look, bub! I did not just travel through this scorching heat and have blood on my feet so you could tell me I can't get in to start my training!" She screamed.

The guard chuckled. "What are you going to do about it?" he inquired.

"I may not be a fully realized Avatar, but I'm one hell of a Waterbender! So, you better let me in OR ELSE!!" Kiama was furious with this man.

The other guards, not waiting to get Icebent into the gate, opened the gates to let Kiama through. "Enjoy Omashu," the head guard mumbled.

Kiama walked slowly through the gates. Once inside, she was impressed with the architecture of the city. After observing the buildings, she noticed something she had never seen before: a very large system of chutes and slides all throughout the city. Kiama stopped an old man who was passing by. "Excuse me, sir, what the heck are all of those slides for?"

"Oh, that is the mail system, little lady," the old man replied. "Those fellas use Earthbending to send people their mail."

"Wow, I've never seen anything quite like that," Kiama noted.

"Yep, it's pretty unique to our fine city. Those chutes go on for who knows how long," said the old man. "May I ask who you are?" the elderly man inquired.

"You may not believe me, but I'm kind of the Avatar," Kiama responded.

"The Avatar! You must be here to begin your Earthbending training."

"Yeah, something like that."

"Well, good luck with that; you take care now." The elderly gentleman left and continued walking through the city.

Well, I guess I should start looking for an Earthbending teacher, Kiama thought. She strolled along through the city, taking note of all of the different signs and dojos and being sure to avoid the shady characters handing out flyers.

In a very dark room, about a dozen men and women were gathered together, all wearing black. "Are you sure of what you heard?" asked a man with short, spiky, black hair.

"Yes, Heng Wei, the Avatar is here in Omashu!" the elderly man responded.

"Well... this could work to our advantage," Heng Wei said.

"How so, sir?" asked a woman with long, black hair.

"Think about it, Yehua. If we were to maybe throw a few of our famous bombs down the mail slides, the Avatar would show up at which point we take her out," Heng Wei responded. "Maybe then the King and Queen would pay up."

"Yes, I believe that would also strike fear into the hearts of the city," said another man with a shaved head and a small beard.

"Not to rush you or anything, but where is the money you promised?" the old man asked.

"Ah, yes. I shall give you your reward, old timer." Heng Wei handed over a sack of gold to the man and then sent him off with a pat on the back.

The old man scoffed. Those criminals must think I'm a greedy old man. He thought. Well, they don't know me; I have to get by somehow, and I'm too old to work. I just wish I had enough money to retire. The old man heard something coming from behind him. It sounded like a sizzling sound; like something was burning. Before he could realize what was going on, the bomb exploded and the old man with it. People crowded around in horror of the scene they were witnessing, while the group of about a dozen or so made their way out, unnoticed.

"I cannot begin to tell you how much I appreciate your help back there." Sister Jiyu strolled through the grassy plains with Kembar shortly after he retrieved the odd pendant from the hog-monkey.

"No problem, Sister Jiyu, I-"

"Please, call me Superior."

Kembar almost chuckled but held it in. "Superior, where is the Western Air Temple? I can't see any buildings for miles. Actually, it looks like we're walking straight for a cliff."

"We are."

"Is there some kind of bridge?"

"You'll see." She put the pendent around her neck. "The leader of each temple wheres one like mine. It's a symbol of grace, freedom, and spiritual mastery, the great qualities of any leader of a free society.

"What does your arrow symbolize?"

"I received the tattoo on my forehead, as well as the arrows on my arms and legs, when I officially became and Airbending master. I can explain more once we arrive."

"Speaking of Airbending master, I was hoping to find someone who could teach me the ways of the element."

Jiyu seemed confused and did not respond for a brief moment. "Airbending? Did you not just Waterbend against that hog-monkey?"

"Actually Sister Superior, I'm the Avatar."

The woman hardly reacted, which struck Kembar as odd.

"You seem completely unfazed, Superior."

The nun simply looked at the young Avatar and smiled. "It's the spirits' plan."

It wasn't long before the two reached the edge of the cliff, and Kembar glanced around for signs of a bridge.

"You aren't even looking in the right direction," Jiyu pointed out.

"Right. You guys are 'airbenders!" He looked up, expecting to see some kind of floating building, but all he saw was the clear sky. "Okay, I'm stumped."

"Look beneath you, and will find the answer to where you are supposed to go," said Jiyu.

Kembar peered over the side of the cliff and saw it. It was amazing, an underground temple facing upside down. "Excuse me, Superior, but I have a question," Kembar stated. "How is this an Air Temple if it is underground?" the boy questioned.

"Come, young Avatar. Your first lesson begins now," Jiyu said, ignoring Kembar's question.

See more

For the collective works of Agent Slash, go here. For Omashu Rocks, go here.

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